4 Easy Ways to Create a Backyard Garden

Four easy ways to create a backyard garden

There are so many health benefits of dirt and this is perhaps one of the reasons that gardeners live longer.

Back to a Backyard Garden…

Gardening was once a normal part of life for most people, and in almost all parts of the world, we still have the ability to grow some of our own food, at least part of the year. Yet, statistically, many of us don’t (especially in the US).

Certainly, as the population has moved away from agriculture and into more urban settings, gardening is not as necessary and there isn’t as much land to garden on, but it is certainly still possible.

In war times, families were encouraged to grow “victory gardens” to help prevent food shortage and at their peak, there were over 20,000,000 of these gardens in the US.

With rising food & gas prices, droughts and issues with the food supply, perhaps it is time to bring back the backyard garden.

Gardening in a small backyard

I know many people who are fortunate enough to have a huge backyard with plenty of room to garden, but many of us live in the city and have limited space that gets enough sun.

Even in a small backyard or on a porch/patio, some simple vegetables, herbs and greens can be grown:

  • Beets, radishes, lettuces and some greens can be grown in light shade/moderate sun and work well on balconies and patios
  • Vines like beans, peas, and cucumbers can be grown in hanging baskets or in barrels on a deck or patio
  • Peppers, tomatoes and beans need more sun (6-8 hours per day) for optimal growth

Just make sure that any container plants get enough sun and water, and that the container has proper drainage. If pests are an issue, try these natural pest control options.

Here are seven simple ways that I’ve personally tried for backyard gardening…

DIY Planter Box

How to make a planter box for easy backyard gardeningI shared the instructions for my simple cedar planter box before, and this is one of the simplest ways to grow a small backyard garden.

This planter is only three feet long, so it will fit on almost any patio or porch. We are currently growing Kale, herbs and a few microgreens.

Natural Containers

If you aren’t the DIY type and don’t want to build a container for gardening, there are many pre-existing natural containers that will work:

  • Bushel baskets
  • Old Barrels (cut in half)
  • Metal drums or planters
  • Wooden boxes
  • Ceramic pots

Just make sure that any container has adequate drainage and water container plants often.

Square Foot Garden

This is one of the first types of backyard gardening I tried when we moved into our first home. The basic concept is using a 4×4 raised bed (or several of them) in a very calculated way to maximize the amount of food that can be grown. The 4×4 foot bed is divided into 16 one-foot squares and each square is used for one type of plant (based on size).

For instance, you might plant one tomato plant in one square, four basil plants in another and nine spinach plants in another.

This site has some additional information about how to plan a square foot garden, but to get started, you just need:

Raised Beds

An extension of the square foot garden is a larger raised bed. The square foot method can actually be used in a larger bed as well to optimize production.

We currently have an 8×4 raised bed garden with an additional 4×4 foot tri-level bed. The combined structure is enough for us to grow most of the seasonal vegetables for our family.

By using companion planting and succession planting, we are able to grow food from April-October in our climate. This post details more about growing methods and shows plans for the really large garden we grew for the past few years.

Do you have a garden? If so, what are you growing this year?

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Reader Comments

  1. Its a nice articles ,but someday you should expand into mention of permacuture, bio-dynamic, spin farming, bio-char, etc

    • Those are all great options but not easy first steps for people just getting started with gardening…

  2. In my garden I grow strawberries, blueberries, salmonberry, kale, chard, miner’s lettuce, oregano and chives. I am able to harvest the greens year round in my climate.

  3. In my garden I grow strawberries, blueberries, salmonberry, currants, kale, chard, miner’s lettuce, oregano, catnip and chives. I can harvest the greens year round in my climate. I also harvest some of the weeds that grow in my garden like dandelion, bittercress, sheep sorrel, purslane and redwood sorrel.

    • How did you learn to harvest weeds? I’ve been interested in that and think it could save people in a food shortage to know this stuff, but I worry about all the pesticides our neighbors use in their very green lawns. Did you know you can eat kudzu?! That’s funny to me because it’s everywhere in the south and people think of it as being a pest, but it would save lives if there was a catastrophic food shortage.

  4. I’m just getting started with container gardening in my apartment. I have no idea what I’m doing. My cilantro died despite my best efforts, but I’m hopeful for some lettuces! If I can get a salad out of the Canadian growing season I will be happy!

  5. For those that are nervous about starting a vegie garden – start small. Think about your salad bowl and what you like to put in. Lettuce and other salad greens grow really easily, as do some herbs, like parsley, basil and mint. If you have a spot of sunshine try a pot plant with a tomato plant. You can even plant directly into a bag of good quality organic potting or seed raising mix, by making a hole big enough to plant your seedlings.
    I’m on a small suburban block and have slowly converted nearly my whole backyard into fruit and veg. What started off as just a couple of pots turned into me digging up my back lawn and installing 5 square foot gardens, then potted fruit trees. Recycling old timber pallets (make sure they’ve not been chemically treated) into vegie beds and planter boxes make for cheap garden beds and old wheelbarrows. Before long you’ll consider a worm farm and compost bins – or even better still ‘worm tubes’ in your vegie beds and you’ll be using weeds to make your own natural garden fertiliser. My love of home grown produce has now crept into my front garden and I have pumpkin, grape and sweet potato vines rambling, herbs as garden borders as well as a few more fruit trees. I love meandering through the garden whenever I can. I’ve started putting garden seats in my favourite spots to sit and enjoy. Be inspired everyone and try just one pot, get dirt under your nails and the sun on your skin… before long you’ll be tending your own vegie garden 🙂

    • If you use weeds to compost for fertilizer, doesn’t it transplant seeds from the weeds into your garden? I’ve wondered about this before.

      • I’ve been using ‘weed tea’ for years. I’ve got a large container I put all my weeds into and keep it filled with water. After a couple of months it’s composted down beautifully into a smelly sludgy liquid, which I strain and pour onto the garden. Weeds, like any other plants absorb all the nutrients you add to your soil so consequently when you drown the weeds they release all this goodness back into the ‘weed tea’

        • Do you cover it? Does it make a difference at all? I have a bucket of tomato leaf tea, and I noticed things growing in it with this heat… I wonder whether covering it or not would get in the way of the process.

  6. I’ve been interested in doing some raised planting beds and trying my hand at a small garden, but the one thing I don’t know is if the cost is worth the effort. I can buy a lot of organic veggies at the store for what the soil and materials to build the beds would cost. I’ve been torn for several years about doing it, but am sensing that maybe it’s time to not be so dependent on others to provide our food.

  7. I’m giving straw bale gardening a try this year. I’ve lined a narrow strip along a fence, that grows lots of bind weed, with strawbales. I’ve placed cardboard under the straw bales to discourage the weeds and planted cucumbers and a variety of winter sqaush.
    Hopefully I’ll be turning this sad weed riden section of my yard into a productive garden.

    • Super curious about this method, Barb. Care to share your results and region? Thanks!

  8. Any suggestions on soil, a specific organic or safe brand, for raised beds? Thanks for your input.

  9. I’ll be growing 3 types of tomatoes, bell peppers, Serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers in 5 gallon buckets and an herb garden in a kiddie swimming pool! I’m considering some cucumbers in buckets with a trellis….

  10. Hi.
    Can u tell me how is homemade dirt compost made…(which u wrote about in making compost tea).do we nee d any special equipments…